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Publisher - greyscale PDF creates 4 plate PDF

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I'm trying to create a greyscale PDF X3 output for print but the print house says it's in 4 colour. Does anyone know the right settings to make a simple plate press ready PDF output? Images are in greyscale with the generic greyscale ICC, hence I've not asked the output to convert image colours.

Screenshot 2020-07-13 at 08.42.50.png

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If your document color mode is Gray/8, try with these settings (if you use another grayscale profile as document profile like "Generic Gray", you should be able to leave document cclor profile, or see that listed here):

gray_settings.jpg.89605778572523274ac481942ff87a55.jpg

If you use PDF/X3 (EDIT: or any X-based export), it will convert may cause conversion of grayscale images to four-color black (it should not, but sometimes does).

If your document color mode is CMYK, you'd need to mark "K only" all grayscale images (otherwise these images will be convert to four-color black may in some situations be converted to four-color black):

k_only.jpg.a4226efc260fc67d94ee9ac7b1ccd0a3.jpg

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Alternatively to activating the "K Only" button for all single objects you can export with not embedding the profile but activating the convert checkbox.

281420037_grayscaleexportsettings.jpg.2fe1cb92a01cbe0b0b40089b588bed29.jpg


Another option is to export as X-4 pdf with a grayscale profile selected, which does not convert colors but embeds the grayscale profile AND an "Output Intent" which gets used when opening the pdf. But note that not every PDF viewer app reads/respects the Output Indent of PDF/X, as e.g. macOS Preview.app doesn't and will show more than 1 color channel this way.

1882739704_grayscaleexportsettingsX4.jpg.03467de66ef356b952023ceeedaf74a6.jpg


macOS 10.14.6, Macbook Pro Retina 15" + Eizo 27" // Affinity preferred in Separated Mode + Merged Windows

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3 hours ago, thomaso said:

Another option is to export as X-4 pdf with a grayscale profile selected, which does not convert colors but embeds the grayscale profile AND an "Output Intent" which gets used when opening the pdf.

Thanks for this. I wanted to add a note on situation where you have a CMYK document with grayscale images but also color objects (which is off the topic as OP's situation is not this) in which case this would not work.

But now that I tested PDF-X-based behavior when using Gray/8 document color mode and Greyscale D50 color profile I need to correct myself and say that I was confused by incorrect assignment of color intent, which when I export with default PDF/X1a:2003, PDF/X3 and PDF/X4 is for some odd reason "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) V2" while I have ISO Coated V2 (ECI) as my Affinity CMYK default, so I do not know where Affinity Publisher gets this.

More importantly, it is totally incorrect output intent (something that does never happen when you use CMYK/8 color mode and PDF/X based methods in Affinity apps), and also causes Adobe Acrobat Pro to display wrong color information in the Output Preview. So I was fooled by this and thought that CMYK conversion of grayscales actually happens, while it does not. Now that I used grayscale profile for viewing, and opened the PDFs in Photohop, I could verify that color values were retained as grayscale and there does not occur conversion of gray scale values even when using different embedded gray profiles in source images (this is identical with the behavior I get when exporting from InDesign using these PDF/X methods).

(So note that if you view these files with Adobe Acrobat Pro with the assigned color intent, you would get four-color CMYK values for the gray rectangle on the right, and the image, which both have Dotgain 15% as embedded profiles; these are illusory values. This means that there is a good chance that OP's PDFs are just fine, but viewed with incorrect profile, caused by wrong color intent saved in the PDFs.)

graytest_pdf1_default.pdf

graytest_pdf3_default.pdf

graytest_pdf4_default.pdf

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4 hours ago, adrianlambert said:

I'm trying to create a greyscale PDF X3 output for print but the print house says it's in 4 colour. Does anyone know the right settings to make a simple plate press ready PDF output? Images are in greyscale with the generic greyscale ICC, hence I've not asked the output to convert image colours.

Screenshot 2020-07-13 at 08.42.50.png

Is your artwork all CMYK in your document and you are trying to convert to 1 colour black through the PDF export?

I have read through a few threads on here with issues making simple PDF's. I have had zero issues making 1 colour black PDF's but I work in the colour space that I am intending it to be on output. So in this case I would make sure all files in a 1 colour black job would be 1 colour black when working on it. I personally think this is the simplest solution rather then fighting and playing with all sorts of presets and output modes. Convert all supporting files to grayscale, make sure black text is 100% K, then export your PDF for print and you will have a print ready PDF in 1 colour black. You will also have a better idea of what your images will look like when converted to greyscale. When using CMYK the greys can look warmer and fuller because they are using CMYK rather than just K. 

 

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Thanks both.

@thomaso The output intent according to acrobat is SWOP coated rather than the chosen profile with x4.

@Lagarto I don't see a K Only option - maybe because the images are grayscale?

It seems to work as expected if I export to PDF1.7 with embed profiles and connect images unselected and the space and profiles set to the document options which are 'Grey/8' and 'Generic Greyscale Profile' respectively.

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2 hours ago, Lagarto said:

But now that I tested PDF-X-based behavior when using Gray/8 document color mode and Greyscale D50 color profile I need to correct myself and say that I was confused by incorrect assignment of color intent, which when I export with default PDF/X1a:2003, PDF/X3 and PDF/X4 is for some odd reason "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) V2" while I have ISO Coated V2 (ECI) as my Affinity CMYK default, so I do not know where Affinity Publisher gets this

This was also my experience. Wasn't able to see the output intent until opening in acrobat so was wondering if this was added at that stage. But if you're seeing this too it looks like an AP issue.

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2 hours ago, wonderings said:

Is your artwork all CMYK in your document and you are trying to convert to 1 colour black through the PDF export?

I have read through a few threads on here with issues making simple PDF's. I have had zero issues making 1 colour black PDF's but I work in the colour space that I am intending it to be on output. So in this case I would make sure all files in a 1 colour black job would be 1 colour black when working on it. I personally think this is the simplest solution rather then fighting and playing with all sorts of presets and output modes. Convert all supporting files to grayscale, make sure black text is 100% K, then export your PDF for print and you will have a print ready PDF in 1 colour black. You will also have a better idea of what your images will look like when converted to greyscale. When using CMYK the greys can look warmer and fuller because they are using CMYK rather than just K. 

 

Yep, I also set my document to be grey/8 in AP. Despite this when exporting PDF-Xx outputs the file was in CMYK. Is this part of the PDF-Xx spec? If so then why the grey options in the pane? Exporting to PDF1.7 resulted in a single plate output though. 

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55 minutes ago, adrianlambert said:

This was also my experience. Wasn't able to see the output intent until opening in acrobat so was wondering if this was added at that stage. But if you're seeing this too it looks like an AP issue.

As your document color space is Gray/8, the problem might be "illusory" in a sense that it is caused by wrong output intent included (inadvertentently) when using PDF/X based exports. This confuses Adobe Acrobat, but could well cause problems also when ripping the content so that images get on four plates. This seems to affect grayscale images that have a grayscale color profile (like Dotgain 15% in my examples) embedded.

EDIT: I just ran another test with the exactly same document but after having switched multiple times color modes between CMYK/8, RGB/8 and Gray/8, and now suddenly exporting with default PDF/X1, PDF/X3 and PDF/X4 methods from a document the color mode that is currently Gray/8 (with the same D50 default profile) produces PDFs that still have the "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2" color intent, but now show mere K values for all four test gray images in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Affinity apps remember the previous color mode when switching between RGB and CMYK color modes so the change might be related to this, but this is truly confusing. 

graytest_gray8_pdf3_default.pdf

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50 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

As your document color space is Gray/8, the problem might be "illusory" in a sense that it is caused by wrong output intent included (inadvertentently) when using PDF/X based exports. This confuses Adobe Acrobat, but could well cause problems also when ripping the content so that images get on four plates. This seems to affect grayscale images that have a grayscale color profile (like Dotgain 15% in my examples) embedded.

EDIT: I just ran another test with the exactly same document but after having switched multiple times color modes between CMYK/8, RGB/8 and Gray/8, and now suddenly exporting with default PDF/X1, PDF/X3 and PDF/X4 methods from a document the color mode that is currently Gray/8 (with the same D50 default profile) produces PDFs that still have the "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2" color intent, but now show mere K values for all four test gray images in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Affinity apps remember the previous color mode when switching between RGB and CMYK color modes so the change might be related to this, but this is truly confusing. 

graytest_gray8_pdf3_default.pdf 459.89 kB · 1 download

More than just confusing. It's problematic! Thanks for your help clarifying all this.

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47 minutes ago, adrianlambert said:

More than just confusing. It's problematic! Thanks for your help clarifying all this.

I feel that I have done just the opposite ;-) Here is what I have if I open the two X3 exports that are included above and in my earlier post. I let Publisher "estimate" the color space, and in both situations it opened the documents in CMYK mode. In the earlier case, the cup-cake is interpreted as CMYK (the filesize already seems to indicate this), and in the latter case as grayscale. It is the same image, a grayscale TIFF without anything specfic (no transparency, no alpha channels, anything) with embedded Dot Gain 15% color profile (similarly as the rightmost gray rectangle, which however is interpreted as grayscale in both files).

grayscale_1sttime.jpg.764f92d28211cfcd83dcfe75b95e88ef.jpg

grayscale_2ndtime.jpg.644bc39df5f0ebd23592f850dc66c5fe.jpg

This shows that the export that displays CMYK values for the cup-cake image would probably get imaged onto four plates when ripped. However the other Dot gain 15% embedded gray image, the rightmost rectangle, is a grayscale image (and not a CMYK one) that for some reason is in JPG format while in the first export file it is in PNG format similarly as the other two.

As the image sources have not changed, and the export methods are identical (default PDF/X presets), the only thing that is changed between exports is the "last used" alternative color profile.

UPDATE: For clarity, these tests have been made with the release version of Publisher 1.8.3.641, not the latest beta.

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4 hours ago, Lagarto said:

"U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) V2" while I have ISO Coated V2 (ECI) as my Affinity CMYK default, so I do not know where Affinity Publisher gets this.

That is meanwhile a long and therefore sad story. – When reporting this issue (though in a different situation) in 2018 I got the answer:

On 11/27/2018 at 11:37 AM, Chris_K said:

Part of the X4 spec is it has to be in CMYK and U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 is the default CMYK profile.

At that time I often noticed this unwanted "default" profile "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2" also in placed resources, linked or embedded in APub, which I had opened inside APub ("Edit image" button) to check their document's color space – which appeared different if I opened the files by their own (not as placed resources). – This year, a few weeks ago, I got a series of APub crashes, in both v183 and v184 beta, when I tried to check some placed resources document's color space this way. Today it appears to work, and also this "default" profile doesn't occur there. – But PDF export, especially with some specific requirements, still can be a Box of Pandora in Affinity.

Unfortunately the mentioned thread wasn't answered any further.

 

 


macOS 10.14.6, Macbook Pro Retina 15" + Eizo 27" // Affinity preferred in Separated Mode + Merged Windows

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Now I managed to get the problem in one and same export:

grayscale_resources.jpg.d689c90cbe40fe06126c2f06dc7ba681.jpg

The other one is the image that I had initially in the Gray/8 document that produced the cupcake as grayscale image. The second one is a fresh import from the file system.

The Resource Manager shows both images linked to the same source with Dot Gain 15% color profile so the source should indeed be identical.

Yet, in the PDF (exported with default PDF/X-3 preset) shows the upper image as  CMYK and lower image as grayscale (the Eyedropper is on same spot on both images):

grayscale_pdf_cmyk.jpg.93320ec2c9d7b2d1f3bd8018687ffec7.jpg

grayscale_pdf_gray.jpg.88475f92bf4f798bef75378aa471b80c.jpg

graytest_confused.pdf

This shows that Affinity apps keep image color information in its data structures the exact content of which is concealed and consequences of which are unpredictable. Worst of all, there does not seem to be a way to clear this data, or reproduce the behavior so that these problems could be avoided. The conclusion is that a prepress tool like Adobe Acrobat Pro is a vital utility when working with Affinity apps.

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13 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

a prepress tool like Adobe Acrobat Pro is a vital utility when working with Affinity apps.

Damn right


Daz1.png

Mac Pro Cheese-grater (Early 2009) 2.93 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon 48 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 ECC Ram NVIDIA GeForce GT 630 - 2 GBUgee 19" Graphics Tablet Monitor Mac OS Mojave 10.14.6

Affinity Designer, Photo and Publisher 1.9.2 + Illustrator CS5 / VectorStyler mainly for Vector distortion workarounds + InDesign CS5 for multipage spread jobs with Slug + ImageVectoizer / Vectorize for raster to vector conversions

www.bingercreative.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, adrianlambert said:

Yep, I also set my document to be grey/8 in AP. Despite this when exporting PDF-Xx outputs the file was in CMYK. Is this part of the PDF-Xx spec? If so then why the grey options in the pane? Exporting to PDF1.7 resulted in a single plate output though. 

I really think this is getting overly complicated for something very simple.

If all your artwork is 1 colour black already, just leave the document colour mode in CMYK. I am not sure if there are issues with the colour profiles Affinity uses or what, but it should never be this complicated. Really all there should be is CMYK, RGB and Spot. Leave the document colour mode as CMYK, when you export as a PDF you will get a 1 colour black (grey tints

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15 hours ago, wonderings said:

Leave the document colour mode as CMYK, when you export as a PDF you will get a 1 colour black (grey tints

Unfortunately it is not that simple. CMYK/8 is certainly the color mode to choose in Publisher, if the job is going to be commercially printed, if not otherwise then for the reason that PDF/X based export methods then work more or less as expected and allow placed graphics with mixed color modes and profiles. But grayscale images are common, and it seems that the way Affinity apps handle them, whether imported (placed) from the file system, copied across Affinity documents (possibly using mixed color modes), imported via Clipboard from other apps, and containing varied embedded grayscale profiles, or being grayscale bitmaps without a profile -- all this can cause that color management of a document gets somehow corrupted and results in confused exports when handling gray/K output, even if the document is in CMYK color mode. I have posted above an example of Gray/8 based document producing confused output, but I have similar output from a CMYK/8 based document, where only using the "K-only" feature can guarantee grayscale images to stay K only, when exported to PDF using PDF/X presets.

Also, if the document color mode has been switched at some point from Gray/8 to CMYK/8 or vice versa (or possibly between RGB/8 and Gray/8 color modes) I have a feeling that profile assignments for imported images can get confused, and that this is something that cannot be fixed unless the images are re-imported (I have not tested whether this could be avoided by using some kind of forced update of linked graphics), or whether the whole document needs to be more or less re-created.

UPDATE: I can now confirm that refreshing linked images (manually or by moving the affected images in another location and then letting the app to relink when the document is opened and an error message related to missing files is shown) does update profile assignments and fixes these kinds of confused documents so that copies of the same image get uniform profile assignments and become treated identically at export time.

The way Affinity apps handle colors and linked / embedded graphics has also changed from version to version and there have been many fixes with very little documentation, so producing well-behaving exports for pint can sometimes be a challenge and require lots of testing and workarounds.  

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6 hours ago, adrianlambert said:

Are Affinity using their own pdf code or that of the os?

Affinity apps use PDFlib library for PDF exports but I think that these problems are caused by conflicts related to certain kinds of documents exported with certain export parameters control of which happens in the exporting apps. Simple scenarios work well, but there are situations, especially related to grayscale images and use of PDF/X export methods that can cause confused handling of grays and black color component.

As shown by @thomaso there seems to be a long history with these problems.

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I had yet another look on grayscale print production with Publisher, and I have now tested the Dot Gain 10 (up to Dot Gain 30) that come with Adobe apps and CorelDRAW, and QuarkGenericGray that comes with QuarkXPress (and that seems to be equivalent to Dot Gain 15%), and they behave completely differently than the D50 profile that comes with Affinity apps and that is used as the default gray scale profile in all Affinity apps. It seems to be intended more for RGB (screen / inkjet / photo printer based) than for commercial print jobs, and seems to be the cause for grayscale images in a Gray/8 (or Gray/16) based documents getting converted to CMYK images when using PDF/X based export presets.

When a grayscale profile that is intended for print jobs (like ones mentioned above) is used as a document profile, grayscale images with conflicting embedded color profiles (like Gamma 2.2 below) are also handled correctly, not just on screen but also when exported. Using proper print grayscale profiles also resolves the odd thing of having "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2" as the output intent in PDFs exported with PDF/X based presets, so the actual document profiles will be used in exports, instead. The color output is also strictly just black (DeviceGray) and Adobe Acrobat compliance check routines show all green for the exported files. 

grayscale_dot15.jpg.7fed9f3a78866e6a3737a6878bf82ed7.jpg

graytest_dotgain15.pdf

As these kinds of grayscale profiles are not shipped with Affinity apps, it would be best to base grayscale print jobs on a CMYK profile, and if necessary, ensure that grayscale images stay as K-only images by using the "K-Only" button separately for each grayscale image placed in the document (it might be needed in certain projects but would typically not required). This should make it possible to use of PDF/X based export presets without problems (and also include color objects in the job, if needed).

If the document already uses Gray/8 color mode and the default D50 profile, the best method to avoid four-color outputs seems to be using export settings that are not based on PDF/X standards, and ensuring that Gray is selected as the color space, and that the document profile is NOT embedded.

UPDATE: In a Publisher document that uses CMYK color mode, embedded color profiles of placed grayscale images are normally discarded and gray values are used as they are, meaning that the images should be fine tuned for right media when placed in the layout (using e.g. dot gain based profiles or otherwise; embedding the profile is not necessary). There are situations where Publisher can get confused so that grayscale images with embedded grayscale profiles become converted to four-color grays at export time (especially when using PDF/X-based presets), and in these situations using the "K-Only" button on the context toolbar for the Move tool forces the images to stay K-only.

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Another remark on this topic:
Don’t use .afphoto pictures, they’ll never render as grayscale, even if their document mode is.

Color management is difficult, but with Affinity apps it’s impossible.

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12 minutes ago, fiëé said:

Color management is difficult, but with Affinity apps it’s impossible.

True, and currently true. Affinity will have to bring color management and pre-press tools to a higher level in future releases if they want more of the professional market for work headed to printers.

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I will have to think about whether to use affinity and risk another headache or bit the bullet and rent indesign in the future. A shame given that I spent money on the affinity app because it says it can handle pdf export and colour workflows. 

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1 hour ago, fiëé said:

Color management is difficult, but with Affinity apps it’s impossible.

So far I had no problems with Affinity's color management. But I also know that D50 describes light and not printing conditions.
Once again, D50 is a monitor profile.


This article has been written with the kind assistance of DeepL.

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